The last few years have set records for the extent of bad legislation that has been passed to restrict women’s health and access to safe and legal abortion. The state of Oklahoma has been on a race to the bottom when it comes to women’s health for some time now, with a very real and serious impact on the women of the state. Many of these blanket laws not only restrict women’s access to a constitutionally protected right, but they offer no exceptions putting some women and their families into heartbreaking and tragic situations — needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so. MSNBC covered this complex issue in their recent article, “‘I’m showing my son mercy.’” Theytake a look at the legislators who have to actually vote on these anti-women’s health laws created in the State House, and examine the real life consequences of these laws on one Oklahoma family.
First you have the legislators who have to vote on anti-women’s health legislation. These types of laws are so extreme that politicians, on both sides of the aisle are speaking out, including pro-women’s health champion and the 2013 Planned Parenthood Barry Goldwater Award Winner, State Representative Doug Cox. A medical doctor who stands strong (and often times alone) against restrictions to limit access to safe and legal abortion in the state, he expressed his concern that these laws are driving women to pre-Roe v. Wade extremes. Even a Republican State Representative who is also a Southern Baptist Minister mentions that he wishes that the state legislature would not spend so much time on abortion restrictions.
Next we move on to the real people whose lives are dramatically affected by these unconstitutional abortion restrictions. The Davis’s are one such family, while pregnant with their fourth child they were told that their baby suffered from a rare brain fetal anomaly and that if the child were to survive birth it would only survive for a year or less. Jessica Davis was faced with a difficult decision, letting herson go on and suffer, or “accept[ing] a word she didn’t like –abortion.” However, given a string of restrictions passed to limit access to safe and legal abortion in the state of Oklahoma the families had far fewer options than one would think.
In 2011, Oklahoma passed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, which provided no exceptions for fetal anomalies; Jessica and her family literally could not get help throughout the entire state of Oklahoma. Thus the family of five, at great financial cost had to travel out of state for a procedure that is supposed to be a constitutional right. The Davis’s and their three children even had to spend the last night sleeping in a car on a hot August night because of the cost of traveling out of state.